Friday, July 31, 2015

Entrance Ramp

At sunrise I'm standing at the bottom of an entrance ramp leading down into a parking lot in Kingston, New York. It's not a place that tourists would ever think of going.

Entrance Ramp, casein, 5 x 8 inches. 
Instead, ordinary people come here on their daily routines. At this hour it's mainly older guys arriving for fitness sessions at the YMCA and patients showing up for appointments at the nearby radiology lab.

Off in the hazy distance is a tangle of street lights, utility poles and cell towers. The sun is coming up hot. A few pools of cool air settle in the shadows around my ankles.
I limit my casein colors to three (plus white): raw umber, golden ochre, and cobalt blue. The underpainting of tinted Venetian red adds a contrasting hue. (By the way, using a contrasting colored underpainting is a legal way to sneak in an additional color in the "Outdoor Market Challenge.) 

Halfway into the block-in. The blue-yellow limited palette mixes with the red of the underpainting.

Covering the surface with grayish opaques is like putting out a fire. A few red embers still glow. 

Now I can concentrate on the close value contrasts and the oppositions of warm and cool colors.

I'm glad I've got my night-painting Department of Art shirt on, because I'm standing a little ways into the road. 

As I paint, I wonder about strange stuff, like why poles are never vertical, and who chose those ball-shaped street lights, and what the sounds would have been like here 100 years ago. I think this sunken parking lot was once the basement of a bustling factory.


Pierre Fontaine said...

Your comment about the history of a particular place has always fascinated me. I've seen picture books with a similar subject matter but the idea of tracing the visual history of a specific spot fascinates me ever since we found an indian arrow head in our backyard while gardening.

Of course, your painting demonstration is awesome as always! Thanks for the daily inspiration.

A Colonel of Truth said...

Excellent! Golf applause.

Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

Excellent painting! I love the golden lighting effect on the building, and I'm wondering if this is another instance of your changing the lighting of a scene via your imagination? The photo of you starting to work on the red page doesn't show anything like it...

drawntoit said...

The inspiration(s)for me are many. Just being so good that you can pick a seemingly mundane scene and make a fine painting. And I am very happy that you share with us how you do it. I can't tell myself that there is nothing to paint, or draw, when I could gather some sort of inspiration from a more focused observation of my surroundings. Many thanks!

Robb said...

Hey Jim!
Love this painting. Thanks so much for posting the steps and for the commentary.
I was wondering if you might be able to go into a bit more detail about choices you make when choosing the colors for your limited palettes. I understand the benefits of limiting the palette, but am still surprised sometimes at which colors you'll pick. Also, what influences your decision to use more colors sometimes, like your painting of Old Willows at Kirkside Park? Thanks so much for everything!

Daniel New said...

Is that pole in the exact middle a nod to what Harold Speed specifically says not to do in his last chapter on proportion? If it is, awesome.

James Gurney said...

Daniel, I noticed the pole was dead center after I got home. At the time I was just worried about putting down what was in front of me. I wasn't really thinking about composition at all.

A Colonel of Truth said...

James, bringing that pole down through the foreground car would have made for an interesting Escher moment, and stimulating nonlinear conversation. Nonetheless, the centered pole is not distracting for the way all else designed. Nice painting! S/ Andy Weddington

Mark Martel said...

You were on today, even your writing shines brighter

Susan Sorger said...

Jim, you are right handed. Why does your set up have both the brushes and the water on the left hand side? You need to reach over your paint and painting to get at them.

Just wondering. I am certain you have a good reason

Susan Sorger said...

Also, if you don't mind my asking here about the diffuser you use outdoors: what are those plastic do-hickies that attach the bottom aluminum rod to the diffusing panel and where does one get them? Thanks so much.